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Match Report

East Fife v Partick Thistle – 8th September 2018

Partick Thistle continued their Irn-Bru Cup journey with an away trip to take on East Fife at the Locality Hub at Bayview Stadium. The Jags eased past Stranraer in the last round of the competition, beating the Blues 5-0 on a wet Tuesday night last month. The Maryhill men now faced another tough test on the road as they travelled to Methil for the first time in 16 years.

Five changes were made to the team that beat Greenock Morton last weekend with some younger faces getting a chance as well as some of the guys still in need of game time. Jamie Sneddon came in for Cammy Bell as the young ‘stopper started his second match. In defence, Sean McGinty dropped out for Tam Scobbie as his ever present status disappeared while Christie Elliott, Niall Keown and James Penrice all retained their spots to complete the backline. Brice Ntambwe and Craig Slater were once again at the heart of the midfield with Jack Storer replacing Chris Erskine to make it a three in the Jags engine room. Aidan Fitzpatrick returned to the starting line-up after winning the Player of the Round award for his performance at Stranraer; he replaced Blair Spittal while an injury saw Miles Storey drop out with Andréa Mbuyi-Mutombo making his comeback after a calf knock saw him miss Thistle’s last game. Kris Doolan once again led the line, still searching for his first goal of the season having been denied that duck-breaking strike by the officials last Saturday.

The game started in a very scrappy manner with neither side really stringing many passes together. The first chance of the match came in the ninth minute as Aidan Fitzpatrick got on the ball for the first time. He picked up possession on the right wing and drove infield. The number 21 evaded the challenge of Liam Watt, leaving the East Fife man on his backside before unleashing a shot. He rather dragged his effort though and it was blocked on its way to goal.

Then, in the next minute, East Fife had an opportunity of their own from a corner. A dangerous delivery was whipped into the six-yard box and met by Daryll Megatt. The defender rose highest and tried to guide it into the far corner with a slight touch, however, he didn’t put enough on the header and it bounced wide of the far post.

After that point, Thistle grew into the game and were rewarded for a spell of dominance with a goal. It came from a high ball forward by Tam Scobbie which found Kris Doolan. The experienced forward then used a clever flick to direct the ball past Daryll Megatt and into the path of Andréa Mbuyi-Mutombo. The DR Congo international then burst through on goal and fired a deflected shot past Brett Long and into the back of the net. That made it three goals in four games for the attacker having netted his first Jags goal in the last round of this competition.

The away side very nearly doubled their lead in the 26th minute when Aidan Fitzpatrick went close after a quick, fluid attack. Christie Elliott was the man at the centre of it all as he made a terrific run down the right flank, drawing the East Fife left back out. This created the space for Fitzpatrick in the box who Elliott found with a smart pass. Fitzpatrick took a touch and then fired across goal, missing the far post by less than a yard as he looked to re-establish himself as the club’s top scorer in all competitions after Chris Erskine equalled his tally with the winning goal at the weekend.

East Fife had one more chance in the first half as Jonny Court tried his luck from distance. The Fifers’ joint top goalscorer picked up the ball 30 yards out as he latched onto a loose ball. He then quickly sorted his feet and took a shot which found the target. Jamie Sneddon was equal to it, getting two hands behind the ball but also holding, as an East Fife man looked to pounce on any potential parry.

Thistle started the second half in unimpressive fashion with East Fife looking much improved following half time and they were rewarded for their improvement with a goal on 51 minutes. A cross into the box couldn’t be controlled by Anton Dowds but the loose ball fell to Scott Agnew and the ex-Stranraer man finished confidently past Jamie Sneddon to bring the hosts level and it was nothing less than they deserved.

In the 60th minute, Alan Archibald made his first change of the game as Blair Spittal came on for Jack Storer and Spittal almost made an instant impact. Aidan Fitzpatrick moved into some space and bent a low cross into the East Fife box, finding the late run of Blair Spittal. The number seven tried a first time shot but he fired it into the ground and the effort was blocked and cleared. The Jags then made a second alteration on 68 minutes with Chris Erskine being brought on for Aidan Fitzpatrick.

However, things got worse for the travelling Thistle side in the 73rd minute as they fell behind for the first time of the game. East Fife substitute, Kevin Smith fed the ball to fellow sub, Rory Currie on the edge of the box. The number 19 then turned and fired a powerful effort past the unsighted Jamie Sneddon at the near post. Once again, the Jags couldn’t have many complaints having conceded as the hosts had looked the better side in the second 45.

In the final 17 minutes, Thistle huffed and puffed but they couldn’t find any way through a resolute East Fife defence as the home side saw the game out for a 2-1 win, securing Irn-Bru Cup progression. The Jags consequently crashed out of the cup with only league action to worry about now, until January when the Scottish Cup returns.

The Maryhill men must now aim to bounce back in the league against Inverness Caledonian Thistle this coming Saturday as the Jags embark on their first trip to the highlands of the season. Kick-off is 15:00 from the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.

THISTLE TEAM: Sneddon, Elliott, Keown, Scobbie, Penrice, Ntambwe, Slater, Storer (Spittal, 60’), Mutombo, Fitzpatrick (Erskine, 68’), Doolan.

UNUSED SUBS (PTH): Bell, McGinty, Wilson.

EAST FIFE TEAM: Long, Dunsmore (Smith, 70’), Kane, Megatt, Watson, Slattery, Agnew, Davidson, Watt (Docherty, 90’), Dowds, Court (Currie, 70’).

UNUSED SUBS (EAF): McDowall, Thomson, Bell.

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